Europe’s Fight Against Traffic

In America, cars rule.

In many cities in Europe, pedestrians rule and cars are taking a back seat.

Vienna, Munich and Copenhagen have closed many streets to traffic. People who drive into London and Stockholm have to pay just to enter the city. There are “environmental zones” in many German cities where only cars with low CO2 emissions can enter. On street parking is disappearing. Shopping centers have fewer parking spaces. In Zurich, planners have instituted a number of initiatives which can cause angst among drivers, including shortening the green light periods and lengthening the red so pedestrians don’t have to wait longer than 20 seconds to cross.

I would like to see many of our roadways more pedestrian friendly. Should pedestrians have to wait several minutes to cross at a crosswalk?

In this New York Times story, a Zurich official states, “When I’m in other cities, I feel like I’m always waiting to cross a street. I can’t get used to the idea that I am worth less than a car.”

Do you think we can make this shift in America? Will we be forced to?

Jan

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